THE idea of a Covid ‘passport’ has sparked controversy across the country – but Barnsley’s four MPs remain mostly united on the matter.
The so-called passport wouldn’t just show whether or not a resident has been vaccinated, but also whether or not they have recently tested negative for the virus.
It could be used for international travel – which is a less contentious issue – but with the government currently looking into the idea of a Covid certificate which covers mass gatherings and crowded venues such as nightclubs, the town’s MPs have voiced their views.
Dan Jarvis, MP for Barnsley Central, admitted a ‘passport’ for international travel could come into use, but feels its introduction for domestic use could cause problems.
He said: “After months of lockdown, we all want to see restrictions eased as quickly and safely as possible, and a range of measures should be considered to enable that to happen.
“As it stands I do have concerns about the proposed roll-out of vaccine passports for domestic use, especially in terms of the practicalities of introducing such a complex system, data protection, and ensuring that residents on low incomes or from ethnic minority backgrounds do not face discrimination.
“It is vital that any proposals for the domestic use of vaccine passports are debated by and voted on in parliament.”
John Healey, MP for Wentworth and Dearne, also agrees that Labour isn’t opposed to some form of vaccine passport for international travel, but believes current plans provide more questions than answers.
“Everyone is desperate to get back to doing the things they enjoy best but Labour is sceptical about the government requiring people to produce passport-style proof for our day-to-day activities,” he said.
“The public need more details because the government’s plans so far raise more questions than answers.”
The town’s only Conservative MP, Miriam Cates of Penistone and Stocksbridge, said she doesn’t see the need for the passport in daily life and says there will be no vaccine certification over the next few months.
She said: “I cannot see a need for vaccine passports in everyday life such as going to shops or restaurants, and this is not something the government is proposing.
“Most people do, however, agree that they will play a role in international travel going forward.
“They may also be useful for mass events where social distancing is impossible, to make sure that everyone there has been vaccinated, has recently tested negative, or has Covid-19 antibodies.
“There will be no vaccine certification as part of our reopening plan for retail and hospitality over the next few months, and I will wait to see the details of any proposals rather than prejudge how I will vote on them.”
Stephanie Peacock, MP for Barnsley East, said that instead of proposing a vaccine passport, the government should give the town more resources to fight against the pandemic.
“Boris Johnson is proposing vaccine ID on phones to gain entry to Barnsley’s pubs and shops,” she said.
“Instead he should give us the resources here in Barnsley to drive up our vaccination rates and support our businesses which are hurting because of the crisis.”